UH students contract chickenpox
Since January 15, the UH Health Center has diagnosed four students — a number not seen in nearly 15 years — with chickenpox.
The four infirm students do not live on campus, but the University needs to be aware of the possible epidemic. Floyd Robinson, assistant vice president for student affairs health and wellness and Health Center director, recommends caution to everyone and action to those exposed.
“Students, faculty and staff experiencing the first signs of chickenpox should notify their healthcare provider to arrange an appointment,” Robinson said. “They should try to minimize exposure to those who may not be immune. It is recommended that you stay home to prevent further spread of the illness during the infectious period ends.”
One way to avoid infection is to get the vaccine even if you’ve already had it as a child because some people can contract it more than once.
“In most cases, getting chickenpox once means you will not get it again,” said Jennifer Nguyen, chief nurse of the Health Center. “However, in rare cases, chickenpox can recur in adulthood — especially those with immune-compromising conditions.”
The Health Center administers the vaccine for $113 per dose, and two doses a month apart are recommended.
“Usually, children who have not had the chickenpox vaccine are most susceptible to the virus,” Nguyen said. “Adults can get chickenpox, especially if they have never had it nor been exposed to someone with it as a child. As with any virus, people who have autoimmune disorders who are infirmed in some way or who are generally in poor health are more susceptible to any form of illness.”
While there is no indication of a national trend of outbreaks, one iconic person recently became ill.
“We’re not aware of any national trend, but there has been a high-profile case recently making news,” Robinson said. “Barbara Walters, the legendary broadcast journalist, is suffering from chickenpox.”
For more information on protecting yourself from this disease, visit cdc.gov/chickenpox/index.html
For more information about receiving the chickenpox vaccine, please contact the Health Center at (713) 743-5151.